Multi-Service Center addresses community language barriers and more with new position

By Adrienne Washington, For the Mirror

Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center is working toward improving equitable access to resources for clients from diverse backgrounds with the new staff position, titled Community Access Coordinator.

The new position makes getting aligned with necessary resources one step easier for clients who are stressed by economic instability. The Community Access Coordinator’s responsibilities include assisting clients to find resources that fit their needs, while also translating information in their respective languages.

Economic instability during the pandemic increased the need for crucial services MSC provides such as rental assistance, temporary and permanent housing, as well as food security. The new position is designed to assist the community when access to walk-in services were closed to the public.

Carolina Cornelio began the Community Access Coordinator position in April 2021 after working as a Youth Case Manager for two years at the MSC. She said that each day on the job is different.

“Some days I will go do home visits with folks, other times, they may come into the office and I help them here. Other times, I’m with them over the phone, or connecting with them through email,” she said. “It’s a little bit of everything.”

Not only does the position make accessing these services easier for vulnerable communities, it gives people someone to talk to in their native language.

“It has often been the case where we connect [clients] to that service, whether it’s going online and helping them, you know, submit their application, whatever the case may be,” Cornelio said.“But shortly after that, once they start interacting with me in their native language, the connection is more personable. So, it is then that they actually feel comfortable enough to share other greater needs, which leads to us helping them out in a whole different way.”

Spanish is the most common language requested by clients at the MSC, followed by Russian and Ukrainian. Cornelio specializes in Spanish speaking clients, but works with members of all languages.